En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - February 09, 2008

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Rubber (latex) in Balloon plant (Asclepias physocarpa)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need milkweed leaves that contain rubber. The common milkweed species Asclepias syriaca has rubber in it. Do the milkweed of Balloon plant milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa) contain rubber?

ANSWER:

Asclepias physocarpa is a native of southeast Africa and our focus and expertise is on natives of North America so this plant is not really in our purview. However, we can answer your question. The majority, if not all, of the milkweeds—in particular, the members of the Genus Asclepias, including A. physocarpa—contain the sticky white latex sap that you see when you cut or break the leaves or stems. The latex, plus other chemical components such as cardenolides, are the plants defense against herbivores. There are insects that do thrive on the milkweeds (e.g, the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus) and have devised strategies to subvert the plants's defenses. You can read more about the plants defense strategies in: Angrawal, A. and M. Fishbein. 2006. Plant Defense Syndromes. Ecology 87(7) Supplement. S132-S149.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for a sunny, sandy site in Central Texas
January 22, 2015 - I live between La Grange and Schulenburg, Texas. My soil is sandy. Full sun, no trees. I am a senior citizen with limited funds who is allergic to Rye and Bermuda grass. I tried planting a lawn of...
view the full question and answer

Ducks and geese resistant plants for a pond in PA.
July 08, 2013 - We have a pond in all shade and we have ducks and geese. We would like to plant something in the space between the walkway and the pond to add color, but they have eaten everything we've tried- fern...
view the full question and answer

Need perennials for front beds in south-facing house ib San Angelo, TX.
February 12, 2012 - What perennials will work in my front beds of southern facing house in West Texas?
view the full question and answer

Looking for seeds for Carex texensis and Horse Herb
July 27, 2014 - I am looking for either plants or seeds of Carex texensis and horseherb with no success. I live in the Albuquerque,NM mountain region (at ~6800ft, zone 6). I need something that is very dought resis...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native bi-color iris from Spring Branch TX
August 18, 2011 - Bi colored iris. I have four plants planted around our water feature last fall. Up until recently they all looked very healthy, yet not blooming. Several weeks ago I noticed that two of the plants ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center